By Josh Sandiford - Deputy Editor-In-Chief at the Mancunion.
How are students surviving local lockdown in student halls? Here's some advice from students in Manchester👇
When most students move to a new city for university, they’re often living away from home for the first time. They can’t wait to get out into the world, meet new people, gain freedom and responsibility. But, for those entering higher education this year, they couldn't have imagined that a global pandemic would be lurking around the corner...
This year, many students have found themselves in lockdown in student halls or private accommodation with people they barely know. They're having to rely on these new friends for support. When these lockdowns are eased, new government rules mean students still can't go out and mix. Undergraduates will have to remain within their "bubble" and keep socially distanced from others.
This means they're spending a lot more time with their housemates.
We’ve spoken to Manchester students in both halls and private accommodation about how to build strong relationships with housemates in these difficult times.
After all, we're in this together 💪
For those in student halls 🏢
Tom Simms, first-year, living in Fallowfield
Tom Simms describes his current freshers experience as "not great". He's just tested positive for Covid-19, and his whole flat has come down with the virus.
He said: "The first three or four nights were quite fun. Everybody was socialising, getting drunk and staying up late, but you can't do the same thing every night. It gets a bit repetitive."
Doing freshers in the middle of a pandemic is something he will always share with his new flatmates. They've only known each other for around two weeks, but the ten of them have become quite close as a result of this shared experience.
"There is a sense that we're very much in this together. You're spending more time with one group of people than you normally would, rather than being a social butterfly around loads of different places," he adds.
Within the flat, they've been playing cards, doing plenty of drinking games, watching movies and trying to make the surreal experience as normal as possible.
We ask Tom his advice on how best to get on with ten complete strangers. Here's what he said:
"Keep an open mind, don't be too down about the fact you can't go out and meet loads of people. Make an effort with the people you're with and don't lock yourself in your room."
"My rule 101 is to have a doorstop, so it's open the whole time. I feel like it's way more sociable! People pop in and say hi. You can quite easily get cabin fever and lock yourself away, so don't hold back and keep active with the people you're with."
For those in a small house 🏠
Holly Cousins, second-year, living in Rusholme
Living just off the Curry Mile by Whitworth Park, Holly Cousins shares a flat with three other Manchester students... and they’re not letting the pandemic get them down!
“We’re having a great time so far,” she says. “We’ve partnered up with our next-door neighbours to make one house of six and it’s been lovely." The group are lucky enough to have outdoor space, so they've been sitting outside with students from other flats enjoying the sunshine.
However, Holly says she's found the "rule of six" confusing due to the shared spaces in her home.
"If one flat catches anything then we’re all likely to catch it," she says. "Two boys from another flat have joined us quite a lot, which brings us up to eight. But considering we all live together anyway it’s a bit silly.”
Her top tips for getting on with your housemates include small acts of kindness - which she says can go a long way: "Be kind and go out of your way to help each other. If you’re doing your washing up or hoovering, do theirs too!"
For those in a medium-sized house 🏡
Luke Keohane, third-year, living in Withington
Luke Keohane also feels lucky to be living with his close friends in uncertain times. He knows that if there’s another lockdown, he won’t feel too lonely or bored. Living in a six-person house in Withington, he says this year is likely to be “bittersweet”.
“We've planned nights in together, just in case going to the pub or socialising outside becomes a problem,” he says. “Because we are six-bedroom home, it's really annoying that we can't have any of our friends around.”
Luke and his housemates have been spending hours sitting around chatting while watching TV. He says they get on so well because they are similar in terms of personalities and interests.
“One thing we're going to start doing in our house this year is taking it in turns to do themed nights,” he says. “Every couple weeks, one of us will organise the night’s activities, music and dress code!”
Luke says that to get on with your bubble, it’s best to strike a balance between socialising and having time on your own. “You can’t be socialising with your housemates all of the time - I think that’s also quite detrimental to your own mental wellbeing. Spending the afternoons or mornings by yourself is very important.”
For those in a large house 🏘
Serafina Kenny, second-year, living in Longsight
Serafina and her housemates did not have a global pandemic in mind when they were deciding on living arrangements. She lives with eight other undergraduates in a huge student house, which means they can’t even go to the pub together!
“We went out the other night, and we had to pretend we were two groups of four that didn't know each other. It was so frustrating,” she says. “We can't really do anything now. With the 10 pm curfew, there's just no point in us going out. We're sticking to drinking at home."
To make things worse, five out of the nine students have girlfriends. Because so many of them are in the house, they've agreed not to allow any visitors.
Despite the impact the new restrictions are having, the group are trying their best to remain positive: “I think it will be okay. We do manage to have a good time,” she adds.
The group have taken to completing TikTok challenges, playing board games and cooking each other meals to stay sane!
Serafina’s main advice is to vary the activities you do as a house: “Try and spice things up a bit by doing group activities and stuff. And communicate, because if you’ve got an issue with someone you can’t just avoid them.”
How are you coping as a student in lockdown? Let us know on Twitter!